6 Best Walking Hats for Different Types of Weather

What you wear on your head when you go walking probably depends on the weather and how much you want to avoid hat hair. There are pros and cons for each kind of headwear, from baseball caps to Buffs to balaclavas. Of course, you always have the option of going bare on top, but here are some options for walking hats:


The Sun Visor

Sun Visor
Sun Visor. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

Hat hair potential: Low. You can adjust the visor so it goes below your hairline and doesn't crush your hairdo.

Sun Visor Pros

  • It shades your eyes and helps keep the sun off your face.
  • You can push your hair off your forehead and away from the nape of your neck with the headband of the visor, which helps keep your hair out of the sweat.
  • Many have absorbent sweatbands, so it can do double duty.
  • It lets the top of your head breathe, so you may have less head sweat.

Sun Visor Cons

  • A visor is like driving a convertible. It doesn't keep the sun, rain, wind, or cold out of your hair.
  • If the top of your head is prone to sunburn, the visor may not be a great choice for you.

The Billed Cap

Hytail Hat
Hytail Hat. AD Activewear

Hat hair potential: High. Things are likely to get steamy under your hat.

Cap Pros

  • It keeps the sun off your face and shades your eyes. There's a reason that baseball players wear them.
  • It keeps sun, wind, and rain off the top of your head, which a visor doesn't do.
  • Sweat control: Some have a sweatband built in.
  • You can find a cap for all seasons—sweat-wicking breathable summer caps, waterproof rainy weather caps, insulated winter caps, and even caps with built-in LED lights and reflective strips for night walking.
  • You can show your colors with your hat with your favorite logo or slogan. Buy Direct has hats with walking slogans.
  • They usually have a ponytail hole at the back, although some don't. The Hytail Hat in the photo has an extra-long ponytail hole so you can wear it with a high ponytail.

Cap Cons

  • Hat hair to the max: Caps crush your hairstyle and leave your head a sweaty mess. If you wear a cap, be prepared to repair your coif.
  • Red neck: Caps don't shade your neck or ears, so be sure to apply sunscreen liberally.
  • Cold ears: If the cap doesn't have ear flaps, your ears are going to feel the cold.

Sun Hats

Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat
Wendy Rocks the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat at the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk Finish. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Hat hair potential: Extreme. Be prepared for major hair repair after wearing a sun hat.

Sun Hat Pros

  • They protect your face, neck, and head from the sun and heat and prevent red neck.
  • There are a variety of styles. Men may prefer to rock a boonie hat, a soft hat that provides just enough shade for the face and neck. Straw hats, cowboy hats, and more can be used to keep the sun off your head and neck.
  • You can buy a sun hat with a chin strap to keep from losing it in the wind. Sunday Afternoons makes a variety of adventure sun hats for walking and hiking.

Sun Hat Cons

  • They're generally not headphone-friendly. The all-around brim won't work for over-the-head headphones, although you may be able to wear wrap-around designs. You'll have to use earbuds instead.

Scarves and Buffs

Buff Head Scarf
Buff Head Scarf. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

Hat hair potential: Moderately high. It depends on how you wear it.

Scarves and Buffs Pros

  • A bandana, scarf, or Buff is easy to pack and put to use to keep the sun off your head.
  • In cold weather, it can also help keep your ears warm.
  • They're versatile. When you don't want it on your head, you can wear it around your neck instead.
  • The reality show "Survivor" helped popularize the Buff, a seamless microfiber tube. You can wear a Buff at least 12 different ways on your head. If you're very skinny, you can also wear it as a tube top or skirt.

Scarves and Buffs Cons

  • They don't have a bill to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your face, although the Visor Buff comes with a bill.

Winter Walking Hats

Sub4 Drylyte Hat
Sub4 Drylyte Hat. Wendy Bumgardner © 2005

Hat hair potential: High. Even in the cold, your head can steam and sweat, and most winter walking hats will crush your hairdo.

The ideal winter walking hat has a bill to shade your eyes and keep the rain and snow out of them while insulating your head and ears to keep them warm.

Your basic beanie hat works fine for winter walking if you don't mind sun and wind in your face. It does the job of keeping your head and ears warm.

As it gets below the freezing point, you may want to add a neck gaiter or balaclava.


Rain Hats and Hoods

Walkers Await the Start of the Seattle Marathon
Walkers Await the Start of the Seattle Marathon, Suitably Attired in Waterproof Jackets with Hoods. Rachel Spanks ©

Hat hair potential: Moderate to high. It's raining, so your hairdo is likely to suffer from the humidity as well as rubbing against your hat or hood.

Standard rainy weather headgear includes a waterproof hood on a waterproof jacket. The best hoods have a short bill built in to guide the rain away from your eyes, and they cinch up to keep rain from blasting in under your hood. You can also buy waterproof versions of boonie hats, sun hats, beanies, and winter fleece hats.

However, it usually isn't the rain coming down on top of your head that's the problem, it's keeping the rain from getting in under your hat and dripping down your neck and under your jacket and shirt. If you don't want to wear a waterproof jacket with a hood, you'll have to face that.

Wearing a hoodie in the rain that isn't waterproof is almost worse than wearing nothing. The rain will soak in and then you have wet fabric against your skin, further chilling you. Learning how to dress for rainy weather can help you keep up your walking routine even when it's wet outside.

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